Punch me for the following statement, please.
The NBA Draft will be fun to watch this year.
And I say that solely because there are potentially two Zags who will hear their names called on June 23. Domantas Sabonis is most likely going somewhere, anywhere, in the first round, and Kyle Wiltjer might be sneaking into the second round.
But for today's purposes, we will talk about Sabonis, because there is quite a bit of thrill involving his name. Specifically, no one knows quite sure where he is going to end up.
Sabonis has been slotted anywhere as high as No. 9 and anywhere as low as No. 20. On both sides of that coin, people writing the mock drafts are doing it thoroughly unapologetically.
The uncertainty around how Sabonis will fare in the NBA is legitimate. Remember, he was one of three players to not partake in the NBA Draft Combine. And for all of his silky smooth post moves, he has enough red flags to cause for some worry in the NBA. Not meaningful worry mind you, but enough that he probably won't be the Rookie of the Year.
Specifically, Sabonis isn't the most athletic dude in the group. He doesn't have a crazy armspan or anything of that sort that catches scouts' eyes. He stands 6'10 and his wingspan reaches 6'10.5. On the defensive end, he has always made up for his slower feet with impeccable timing and positioning. A good trait no doubt, but not one that makes NBA GMs drool.
And for reasons like that, Sabonis is landing at No. 20.
Then there is the body of work. Sabonis averaged 17.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game last season on a Gonzaga squad that wasn’t exactly balanced offensively. He put up huge numbers when all the defense had to do was clog the interior and make the guards try and win the game. And still, Sabonis put up monstrous lines. He closed out the season in the NCAA Tournament with three-straight triple-doubles.
He went up against Jakob Poeltl and made him look like a child. He showed that he has versatility on the defensive end when he locked down Kyle Collinsworth in the WCC Tournament. Few players in the draft have the relentless energy and the drive that Sabonis has, and that is why he is potentially going as high as No. 9.
All it takes to go in the top 15 is to have a team like you. Sabonis has been commonly linked to the Toronto Raptors, who have a huge gap at power forward. As easily as it is to see Sabonis going somewhere there, he has just enough detriments to see him slide down in the first round. Some GM will take a liking to Sabonis on Draft Day, and he will have a big opportunity to be an impact player in the NBA in his rookie year.